P-B Endorsement: Rochester mayor: Ardell Brede vs. Cindy Maves
It's no exaggeration to suggest this is the most important mayoral election in Rochester's history.
Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center plan has put the community on the cusp of the biggest economic development in Minnesota history. The next mayor will be the public face of the development for the next several years.
That fact is not lost on Ardell Brede, the incumbent who took office nearly 12 years ago.
"The next four years is when some of this stuff is going to be implemented in one way or another," Brede said. "I think that's a valuable asset to have that background as we move forward to see some of that happen."
Challenger Cindy Maves also sees DMC as a defining issue.
"DMC is just getting off the ground," Maves said. "It's a good time to have someone who's going to be here for the next eight to 12 years to be managing that."
Rochester's mayor has one of the eight seats on the board of directors of the Destination Medical Center Corp., the governing body charged with overseeing the planning and implementation of the DMC initiative, a $6 billion expansion project spanning the next 20 years.
Brede said his role on the DMCC board "is to be the conscience of the city of Rochester, to be sure that whatever is coming forward, that it's being fair to the city."
An example that Brede gave was a DMCC meeting in which boundaries were discussed. James Campbell, the former CEO of Wells Fargo Minnesota who was appointed to the board by Gov. Mark Dayton leaned over and asked, "What is the city going to think about this?" Brede told the board the boundaries were generally acceptable but said they should extend out to Cascade Lake, a necessary inclusion because nearby Second Street Southwest is a transit hub for downtown workers.
On the importance of the DMCC board, Maves said, "the mayor has a huge role because he sits on the board. He has an overall responsibility to oversee everything on the project."
However, Maves was dismayed by the recent attorney general's opinion released that concluded that $12 billion, not the intended $6 billion, in private funding would need to be raised before DMC could receive the full amount of state money earmarked for the project, according to the "multiplier" wording in the DMC legislation.
"It was up to the mayor and our city to make sure it was clear in the first place," Maves said. "If we open up that legislation now, we're open to any amendments that anyone wants to make, and we have no idea who's going to be representing us at that time because of the election."
Clearly, Maves would bring a different style to the mayoral office. She became involved in politics six years ago when she attended a Rick Santorum rally and, soon after, became founder of the Rochester Tea Party Patriots. Maves, a graduate of Rochester Lourdes High School and Rochester Community College with an engineering technology degree, has been heavily involved ever since, becoming a regular fixture at local government meetings and testifying at the legislative hearings.
Maves said the mayor should use the office as a bully pulpit on behalf of the taxpayers and be assertive with city staff employees. "I've walked out of committee-of-the-whole meetings, and I've heard the city staff laugh and joke about how they got the city council to go the way they wanted," she said.
Brede is a more diplomatic personality who embraces his role as the city's ambassador. He also points to his record of nominating more than 1,000 people to various boards and committees "and the council has not turned down a single one," a sign he's done a thorough job of vetting each applicant.
Maves was critical of Brede's use of the veto, saying he has vetoed ordinances without weighing in. Brede believes he has been selective with his veto power. He's used it five times during his term, although three of of his vetoes have come in the last 1 1/2 years.
The challenger also believes Brede has acted in a partisan manner unbefitting a nonpartisan office. "I was appalled when the mayor got up and endorsed the entire DFL team several years ago," Maves said.
Brede acknowledged endorsing Dayton at a news conference at DFL headquarters in 2010, but he explained that cuts to Local Government Aid were an overriding campaign issue that year. "Representing the city, I thought it would be better for us if we had Mark Dayton as our governor versus any of the others," he said.
Brede recalled an expression he heard while at a United States Conference of Mayors meeting. "A streetlight that's burned out or a pothole in the street is neither Republican nor Democrat. It needs to be fixed. "
The mayor's office interests Maves the most because "I like politics that are nonpartisan. I don't like the fact of being pushed by one side or the other. The idea of being a representative and having your party telling you how to vote is very unappealing to me."
Her tea party activism is evidence of her independence, Maves said, emphasizing it is a nonpartisan group with three fundamental principles: "We're for fiscal responsibility, limited government and social responsibility. That's it."
Maves also has made an issue of Brede's long tenure in office, pointing to the city charter that caps service at 12 years. "I have the utmost respect for him," she said, "but I just think it's time."
Brede countered that a Minnesota Supreme Court case ruled term limits are unconstitutional. The Post-Bulletin has long taken a dim view of term limits. We think it's counterintuitive to tell voters they're not smart enough to vote an ineffective politician out of office.
We believe after 12 years that Ardell Brede is more effective than ever, and that's why we're recommending him for another term. Yes, you can use the mayoral office as a bully pulpit, but Brede's tactful negotiation skills are crucial in the early stages of DMC. Maves' advocacy style is more suited to a city council seat, which we encourage her to consider, over the ambassadorial nature of mayor.
When Brede moved to Rochester, he intended to work for Mayo for a few years and then return to school to become a Lutheran pastor. But he met his wife, raised his three children in Rochester, and what he planned to be a stepping-stone job turned into a nearly 44-year career at Mayo. Long active in the community, Brede said he had not considered elective office until being urged by friends and colleagues.
On election night in 2002, when the results came in from his first mayoral race, one observer told him, "I guess your ministry has taken a different path."
Indeed it has. Rochester has benefited greatly from Brede's unintended career path, and we encourage his re-election as mayor.
The Post-Bulletin Editorial Board endorsements are offered to provide one view of candidates for local, regional and statewide offices.
We encourage you to do your own research as well as you get ready to vote.
To find out more about the candidates running for Rochester mayor attend the League of Women Voters forum at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Rochester Public Library, or
visit their websites:
• Ardell Brede:
• Cindy Maves:
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Past endorsements are available online at www.postbulletin.com/opinions